There’s been a real sea change in the public view of eating meat. As developing countries start to consume more meat, so many in the developed world are starting to cut back. The reasons are many and varied but boil down to three areas – health, cost and the environment.
There has been a welter of publicity recently about pockets of the world with very high life expectancies. One of the things these areas have in common is a diet containing very little meat. It’s obviously not a silver bullet – there are plenty of areas in the world with a low meat intake and a very low life expectancy. Poverty and warfare will see to that. But it has certainly provoked many people to reduce the amount of meat they eat. In fact, a report published in the ‘American Journal of Clinical Nutrition” found that reducing meat consumption can increase your life span by 3.6 years.
The recent economic crisis has left many people with a choice to make. If you want to eat high-welfare meat, it comes at a cost. One obvious way of dealing with this is to eat good quality meat but less often.
There is also lots of evidence that the production of meat comes with a higher environmental cost than the production of plant-based food. We have to grow, harvest, process and transport plants to feed to the animals we raise for meat, then go through the whole chain again to process the meat. And let’s not talk about methane production shall we?!
It’s exciting to see so many of us seeking out meat-free days and meat-light meals. But of course, we still want those meals to taste great, so we’ve put together a few easy ways to transform our meat-based meals into plant based treats. And what better time to think of making the change than spring? After a winter of hearty meat stews, curries and casseroles, spring is just calling out for some lighter veggie dishes. Here’s our top SimplyCook veggie swaps:
Goan Cauliflower Curry (original kit: Goan Fish Curry)
Curry Spice Blend
- Half a caulifower, chopped into florets
- 400g tin chickpeas, drained
- 200ml tin coconut milk
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- 2 tomatoes, finely chopped
- 200g tin chopped pineapple (optional)
- Rice or naan bread (optional)
- If using, cook the rice according to the packet instructions. Once you’ve put the rice on you can get on with the rest of the cooking.
- Heat a couple tablespoons of oil in a wide deep pan at medium-high heat and add the onion, tomato and the Goan Paste. Cook, stirring for a couple of minutes.
- Mix the coconut milk and Coconut Paste into the onion mixture and bring to the boil. Add the cauliflower, chickpeas and 200ml water to the pan and cook for 10-15 minutes until the cauliflower is soft. Add more water if it becomes dry.
- Stir the Curry Spice Blend and optional pineapple lightly through the curry. Then take the pan off the heat and plate up.
Shepherdess Pie (original kit: Cajun Chicken)
In the box:
Red Pepper Paste
- 3 small sweet potatoes, in small cubes
- A small pack of baby courgettes, cut into 1 cm rounds
- 1 red pepper, cut into thin strips
- 1 red onion, sliced
- 1 can kidney beans
- Half pack of feta, crumbled
- Heat oven to 200 degrees.
- Add boiling water to saucepan and then add the sweet potato for 15 minutes.
- Meanwhile heat Garlic Oil in frying pan, then add the red onion for 2 minutes.
- Then add the red pepper for 3 minutes, stir.
- Then add the baby courgette for 5 minutes, stir.
- Add the drained kidney beans and Cajun Seasoning. Stir thoroughly and add a pot’s worth of water if needed. Cook for couple of minutes. Once all of the veg is cooked, layer on the bottom of an ovenproof dish and scatter on half of the cheese.
- Drain potatoes and mash, then once mashed then add the red pepper paste and stir. Then spread on top of the veg and cheese mixture and sprinkle with the remaining feta.
- Place in oven for 10 minutes until slightly golden on top.
Mushroom Stroganoff (original kit: Beef Stroganoff)
In the box:
Hot Smoked Paprika
- 1 onion, finely sliced
- 300g mixed mushroom (chestnut, Portobello or wild)
- 150ml sour cream
- 500g potatoes, peeled and cut into small chunks
- Oil/knob of butter
- 50ml milk
- Optional – Parsley, 50g peas
- Put the potatoes in a pan with water, bring to the boil and simmer for 15-20 minutes, until cooked.
- Meanwhile, heat 1tbsp oil or a knob of butter in a large frying pan. Fry the onion and the Hot Smoked Paprika on a medium heat for 5 minutes, until soft but not browned. Add the mushrooms and fry for a further 5 minutes.
- Pour in the soured cream and Mushroom Stock pot. Bring to the boil and simmer for 2-3 minutes, until thickened.
- Meanwhile, drain the potatoes and put through a potato ricer or mash thoroughly. Beat in the milk and Horseradish Potato Seasoning.
- If using, add the frozen peas, stir to combine and heat gently for 2-3 minutes until the peas are cooked.
- Serve the Stroganoff alongside the mash sprinkled with the optional parsley.
Parsnip and Chickpea Tagine (original kit: Chicken Tagine)
In the box:
- 2 parsnips, cut into small cubes
- 1 x 400g tin tomatoes
- 1 x 400g tin chickpeas, drained
- 100g dried apricots
- 100g dried couscous (or quinoa if gluten free)
- Olive oil
- Coriander (optional)
- Gently fry the parsnip in a tablespoon of olive oil in a large frying pan at medium heat for 3 minutes. Stir the Garlic Paste vigorously through the parsnip. If you’re using quinoa, get it on now and follow packet instructions for water volume and cooking time.
- Add the Tagine Paste to the parsnip and simmer for 5 minutes. Then add the Tagine Seasoning, tomatoes and apricots to the parsnip and simmer for 13-15 minutes. Meanwhile, if using couscous, cook the couscous according to the packet instructions.
- Add the chickpeas to the tagine and simmer for a further 3 minutes or until the parsnip is soft.
- Divide the cooked couscous or quinoa between 2 bowls, top with the tagine and garnish with the optional fresh coriander if you like. Get stuck in!
We’re sure you’ll have lots more ways to big up the amount of veg in your diet. What swaps do you make? We’d love to hear what you’ve found that works.